These new releases from some of the South’s most talented writers will have you contemplating miracles, haunted pasts and life after loss.
Anatomy of a Miracle by Jonathan Miles (Out now)
In post-Katrina Biloxi, Mississippi, Cameron, a paraplegic veteran, suddenly rises out of his wheelchair on a hot summer day. Cameron gains celebrity status as the word spreads about his “miracle.” He soon captures the attention of scientists, journalists and investigators, causing his deepest and darkest secrets around his accident to become threatened. Anatomy of a Miracle will have readers on the edge of their seats as they join a cast of vibrant characters to discover if Cameron truly experienced a miracle, or a scientific breakthrough.
Dreaming in Chocolate by Susan Bishop Crispell (Out now)
Penelope Dalton runs the Chocolate Cottage with her mother and her daughter, Ella. The popular cafe sells hot chocolate, sweets and a little something extra: magic. People come from all over to get the things they need, like cures for broken hearts, luck (temporary), even happiness. The magic has its limits though. It can help Penelope grant all of Ella’s wishes, but it can’t cure her daughter’s brain tumor. Ella’s new wish is something that seems equally impossible: a dad. And she has her sights set on Noah Gregory, her mother’s high school sweetheart and, unbeknownst to her and to everyone else, her biological father.
The Echo Killing by Christi Daugherty (Out now)
Harper McClain is one of Georgia’s top crime reporters. Born and raised in the coastal city of Savannah, she now spends her time investigating the darker underbelly of the historic, tree-lined streets. When Harper arrives at the scene of a recent homicide, the details are eerily similar to a 15-year-old cold case: the murder of Harper’s own mother. The story is the same. A 12-year-old girl discovers her mother’s naked body in their kitchen, stabbed multiple times and all trace evidence removed. The similarities are too much for Harper to ignore, and she embarks on the daunting task of catching the person she believes killed her mother so many years ago.
The Fighter by Michael Farris Smith (Out now)
This prolific Mississippi writer is back again, following up last year’s Desperation Road with a new novel that once again takes characters to the extreme. Bare-knuckle fighter Jack Boucher knows his mind is failing as he carries around a stash of illegal painkillers and a notebook of names that separates friend from foe. The acres of fertile soil, 200-year-old antebellum house and the woman who gave it to Jack, his foster mother only days away from dying, are all gone. In a single twisted night, Jack loses his chance to win it all back. Jack is hijacked by a sleazy gambler, but this sudden reversal of fortunes introduces an unlikely savior in the form of a sultry, tattooed carnival worker. Guided by what she calls her “church of coincidence,” Annette pushes Jack toward redemption, until he’s forced to step into the fighting pit one more time. Read our interview with Michael Farris Smith and enter to win a copy of the book here.
Gods Of Howl Mountain by Taylor Brown (Out now)
Author Taylor Brown’s third novel is set in the misty mountains of North Carolina in the 1950s and follows the story of Rory Doherty, a bootlegger who has returned from the Korean War with a wooden leg and memories that continue to torment him. Rory lives with his grandmother “Granny May,” a healer and potion maker who harbors the dark truth about Rory’s mother and her silent stay in a mental hospital. Granny May works to protect Rory from various adversaries such as rival whiskey runners, the daughter of a snake-handling preacher and his own haunted past.
The Past is Never by Tiffany Quay Tyson (Out now)
During one hot Mississippi summer, six-year-old Pansy vanishes without a trace after swimming in the forbidden rock quarry, leaving siblings Bert and Willet stunned and their family broken. Years later, Bert and Willet discover clues about Pansy’s disappearance that lead them to the depths of the Florida Everglades where they discover dark family secrets and haunting details about the past. A 2018 Okra Pick, The Past is Never is a suspenseful addition to the modern Southern Gothic genre. You can read our 2015 interview with Tyson here.
Whiskey & Ribbons by Leesa Cross-Smith (Out now)
Leesa Cross-Smith weaves a heartbreaking tale of love, loss and healing in her debut novel. Whiskey & Ribbons centers around Evi, a new mother who lost her husband, Eamon, when he was killed in the line of duty. Eamon’s brother, Dalton, moves in with Evi in order to help her take care of her six-month old son. Set in modern day Louisville, Kentucky, the novel uses the perspectives of Evi, Eamon and Dalton to explore the ideas of motherhood, brotherhood, healing and life after loss.
In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills by Jennifer Haupt (Out April 1)
Disillusioned with the Civil Rights Movement after the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Lillian Carlson leaves Atlanta to found an orphanage in Rwanda’s Rift Valley. Three decades later, Rachel Shepherd searches for her estranged father, Henry, her desire to find the man who abandoned her as a child taking her from New York to Rwanda. Along the way, she meets Lillian and a young Tutsi woman who lived through the recent horrors of the Rwandan Civil War. Haupt’s new novel follows the stories of three very different women as together they find healing for the wounds of their pasts.
Country Dark by Chris Offutt (Out April 10)
Set in rural Kentucky and spanning through the decades from the Korean War to 1970, Country Dark follows the story of Tucker, a young veteran who comes home to work as a bootlegger. Tucker begins a family and a modest life, however, it isn’t long before his family is threatened. In a land filled with nuanced rules, Tucker is pushed to use violence in a way that will change his entire life. Offutt’s distinct voice, reminiscent of Ernest Hemingway and Raymond Carver, will leave readers absorbed in the story of Tucker as he works to protect the people he loves.